13 August 2015

Three Questions for:
Tonia Samsonova, The Question

Text: Anja Neidhardt

The Question is a digital platform in Russian, run by an international, design-driven team. It covers no particular topic, users attribute questions and answers to several tags. We spoke with Tonia Samsonova, CEO of The Question.


1. Can you give an example how The Question works?


All the questions on our platform are attributed by users to several tags. As a user you have a list of stories and topics you would like to know more about, but also a list of knowledge and experience you feel you could share with others. For example, as a media manager, living in London, with three kids and a background in political journalism in Russia, I could share knowledge about: Russia, politics, London, entrepreneurship. And I would like to read about: physics, future, maths and cryptology, data protection and cyber anarchy subculture and ISIS SMM (Social Media Management). So I answer questions on the first feed and ask questions on the second.



2. How did you come up with the idea for this project?


I left Russia in 2013, a while before the war with Ukraine, as the atmosphere in the country was suggesting that something like this would happen, soon. I was concerned about the wellbeing of my family. It was a hard decision, as by that time I had a pretty good career on Russian independent TV-channel and radio. I came to London, loosing all the benefits of having a job that had given me a feeling of fulfilment for a long time. During the first year of exile most of the media I worked for back in Russia where either closed or changed dramatically. It was time to do something new. I realised that by no means I would be able to create a news agency that could cover all the news, as this is quite an expensive thing to do. But I also thought that you can’t have just politics on your website, because people’s interests are much broader. So, finally, in 2014 together with a team I developed a platform that could cover everything one could possibly be interested in. Even though I am currently working as a correspondent in London as my primal job and occupation, I still have enough time to manage The Question.


3. Where is your team based?


The contributors, designers and developers are based all over the world. Our company wakes up in Ubud (a small town in Indonesian Bali) where our picture editor Dina Lun is based, then it’s time for Krasnoyarsk where the front-end developers are based, then Moscow and Saint Petersburg, where the editors and designers and CTO are based, then Minsk wakes up with typography designer Yulia Kondratuk, then London, and then New York with one of our best writers Polina Eremenko.


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